Why and How: Seeking Inspiration in Nature Photography - Part 3
Seeking Inspiration Also Requires a Method
As we saw earlier, inspiration is difficult to define, thus making it challenging to create interesting photos. Yet, our experience has taught us that to create captivating photographs, we must concentrate on specific, well-defined themes.
When we decide to create a fine art collection, we choose a direction of artistic work. We always jot down on paper a synopsis of the project we want to work on, and then we research other photographers’ accomplishments on the subject. Sometimes, we explore tenuous tracks that may lead to creative ideas. Once we have reached a decision, we stick to our promise.
Surprisingly, inspiration becomes stronger as our project progresses. We have often found that once we have chosen a simple and unambitious guideline, we find ourselves having completed large-scale projects, such as exhibitions. We believe that self-denial and tenacity are two key elements in advancing the quest for inspiration. Once the inspiration is found, a true creative spiral begins. Unexplainably, everything is connected in a logical way; photos emerge in a natural and consistent way, eventually creating a coherent collection.
When we are inspired, we experience very strong moments of excitement. In the morning, we have no difficulty awaking, yet in the evening we struggle to fall asleep. These moments of intense creativity give us moments of indescribable well-being. As we create our photos, we feel an intoxication of serenity. It is as if time has no longer any hold over us. We become one entity united to the outside world. Being relaxed, we have clear ideas, and ideas flow naturally. In this state, we produce our best works, and it is an immense pleasure that revives our well-being.
Choosing the theme of a project is essential, as it will lead to unpredictable perspectives. With perseverance, a simple idea can result in a masterpiece.
Looking for Inspiration in Nature Photography Requires Organization
In the previous paragraph, we mentioned that a good methodology is needed to discover inspiration. This methodology is incorporated in our daily work. However, we believe that an organized digital work flow is also a key factor in artistic creation.
For example, our photographic artworks are organized into three distinct categories: projects, series, and collections. We often formulate projects without deep inspiration. The photos of these projects will be selected, filed, and archived according to our own methods, which are beyond the scope of this article. Then we extract photos that will feed series that are generic themes. Finally, we combine series to create collections, of which the final photographs will be sold as artworks. This way of organizing our work is a formidable means of maintaining inspiration. Organizing our own data for future use is a way for us to channel our creativity into our collections, remaining consistent with our artistic approach.
Seeking Inspiration Requires Getting Out of our Comfort Zone
Many individuals are comfortable in the slump of ordinary habits, their “daily cocoon”. We too, have created habits and rules that have locked our imaginations into a virtual prison, believing that we were avoiding the hassles and negative influences of the outside world. However, over time, we realized that by hiding in our comfort zone, we could no longer find inspiration.
Inspiration results when a person takes risks in his daily life. Creating new challenges is something that we are not prepared for; we face the unknown when exploring new creative ways. We call this "liberating our creativity".
Many nature photographers tell us that they are not inspired, that they have incorporated all subjects, that there is nothing more to invent. When we could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, we too, agreed that experiences have limits, and that everything had been done. Nevertheless, we emerged and regained the energy to face new challenges.
We often advise photographers to come out of their comfort zone after the success of a project or an exhibition. Remaining secluded is a terrible mistake because, as we have said, we must remain humble in case of success. When inspiration collapses, we are unable to know how long this lethargic period will last.
Inspiration regenerates when a photographer questions himself, when he takes risks, when he throws himself into the unknown. In summary, inspiration occurs when one steps out of his comfort zone.
Inspiration Is the Opposite of Manufacturing
Post processing and printing our photos are not the only steps within the manufacturing process. Although inspiration is utilized in this stage, it is not as intensely relied upon as during shooting or imagining a collection. In our daily work, when we frame our photos or prepare our mat, we are still manufacturing. This phase does not require thinking, as we are simply obeying efficient rules and processes. For these "idiot" tasks, we do not seek the creativity; we are looking for perfection to present to our customers. When we are experiencing phases of inspiration, we are in a state of peace and unbelievable serenity. Everything seems possible. We have no limits. We do not obey any principle or rule: we allow ourselves to progress with the pleasure of our imagination. It is for these reasons that inspiration has nothing to do with manufacturing, in fact, the two are completely different states.
Manufacturing, or, "technical activity", consists in producing a structure through the application of rules whose efficacy is known beforehand. As a result, we already know what the result will be. For us, manufacturing is a voluntary and conscious act that implements both processes and skills.
When we are experience inspiration, we do not obey any specific rule. We simply create, trying to bring into existence that what did not exist before, thus discovering beautiful photographs as the scenes or subjects appear. This is a significant difference between the illustrative photography we have practiced for years and the artistic photography we do now.